What do these two images have in common? The answer is that they were both taken in the same day.
On Sunday, we saw two very stark truths of our species. The first is an image of Amardeep Kaleka, preying after his father was shot at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin; the second is of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Mission Support Area after discovering that the Mars Curiosity Rover had successfully landed on Mars. Yes, in less then a day, we have seen how far we have come, and how far we have to go.
To paraphrase the great Carl Sagan, if we first do not destroy ourselves, we are destined to go to the stars. To paraphrase Sagan again, we hold have the desire and the tools to do both.
The unknown created both of these pictures – in the first it was a soulless individual who knew nothing about the lives of a good and honorable group of people who wanted nothing more than to worship their God in peace; the second speaks to our desire to ever explore and now more about the universe we live in.
When people ask me why I am so passionate about civil rights, it is for reasons such as these. Humanity must work together in order to achieve great things, but we will only get there when we are willing to set aside truly small things such as race, religion, sexual orientation, et al. This is also why I am so infuriated by intolerant people who think that it is okay to hold people down simply because the lifestyle of the oppressed is different from their own.
So, what do we do from here? We all have our own answers to that question, but I feel that the first step is to honestly ask ourselves which of the two pictures above do we want to see more of? Do we want to live in a world where hate is tolerated or one where individuals are allowed to grow up and create the tools to explore other worlds?
Pause, reflect, and ask what world you want. I will leave you, again, with Carl Sagan and the Pale Blue Dot:
Photo Credits: Sikh Temple: Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel | Mars Landing: NASA